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New Defense Minister Pledges More Missiles And Stronger Qods Force


Amir Hatami, nominated Defense Minister, attends a parliament session to discuss the president's proposed cabinet in Tehran on August 15, 2017

“Iran is going to continue to enhance Iran’s missile capabilities and increase the number of its cruise and ballistic missiles,” President Hassan Rouhani’s nominee for the position of Defense Minister, Brigadier General Amir Hatami pledged at the parliament open session on Thursday morning, August 17.

“Strengthening support for Qods Force, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, [IRGC’s unit for extraterritorial operations] will also be one of my main priorities, if I qualify for the position,” General Hatami promised the MPs.

During the same session, which was broadcast live from national state run radio and TV, opponents and proponents of the nominees for ministries of Agriculture, Justice were expected to take the podium. However, there were no opposition against Gen. Hatami and Alireza Avaei’s nomination for the posts of defense and justice, respectively.

“Enhancing Iran’s missile capability, increasing the number of cruise and ballistic missiles as well as strengthening air defense systems will be at the top of the agenda at the Defense Ministry in the next four years,” Gen. Hatami reiterated.

Rouhani’s pick for Defense Ministry laid out his plans at a time that the United States of America has explicitly declared that Iran’s missile program and Qods Force activities are against the spirit of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA or Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

President Trump has repeatedly reiterated that he believes the Islamic Republic is not committed to the spirit of JCPOA.

On August 2, U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law new legislation imposing further sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea but called the bill “significantly flawed” and signaled that he might not fully implement the sanctions.

The new law imposes tough new sanctions on Iran and North Korea over their missile programs, as well as for human rights abuses by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, one of Iran’s most powerful military and security organizations.

Referring to the news sanctions the US has imposed on the Islamic Republic, Gen. Hatami maintained, “We will enhance our support for the ‘Resistance Front’ (Lebanese Hezbollah and Hamas) as well as for Qods Force and its chief commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani”.

“Enhancing Iran’s missile capability, increasing the number of cruise and ballistic missiles as well as strengthening air defense systems will be at the top of the agenda at the Defense Ministry in the next four years,” Gen. Hatami reiterated.

Gen. Hatami, if approved, will be Iran’s first defense minister picked from the regular army in more than three decades.

Meanwhile, Rouhani’s nominee for Ministry of Justice, Alireza Avaei, had also no MP speaking against him, while four legislators spoke in his favor.

Avaei’s nomination has angered many human rights organizations who have accused him of participating in massacre of political prisoners in the 1988, who were serving their sentences.

Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, Avaei’s predecessor was also target of criticism for his role in execution of thousands of prisoners, at the same period.

Avaei has also served seven years as Tehran’s Chief Justice.

The absence of opponents for the confirmation of Avaei and Gen. Hatami was quite predictable, analysts told Radio Farda. They believe that picking ministers of Intelligence, Defense, Foreign Affairs and Science and Higher Education has been done under the direct supervision of the Supreme Leader, ayatollah Khamenei. Therefore, MPs are reluctant to oppose nominees already approved by Khamenei.

Meanwhile, the nominee for the ministry of justice is picked by the president from a list proposed by the judiciary.

According to the Islamic republic’s official news agency, IRNA, “The last pick for Thursday’s session was Rouhani’s nominee to Ministry of Roads and Urban Development.”

Abbas Akhoundi, who had also “served at the same position during the President’s first-term cabinet”, Irna asserts, “Was generally praised for his efforts on signing deals with ATR, Boeing and Airbus."

Parliament will continue with the remaining the president’s nominees, on Saturday.

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